Mark 6:7-13 7 And he called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. 8 He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts— 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics. 10 And he said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you depart from there. 11 And if any place will not receive you and they will not listen to you, when you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 So they went out and proclaimed that people should repent. 13 And they cast out many demons and anointed with oil many who were sick and healed them.
At the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry great crowds flock around Him to see what He would say and do. The crowds were amazed! Jesus selected 12 men (Mark 3:13-18) and began to teach them and others who followed Him about the Kingdom of God. Jesus was the King of a new kingdom- a perfect eternal kingdom and Jesus manifested this kingdom in their midst. His actions revealed what the future perfect Kingdom of God would be like where all those in His Kingdom obey God perfectly out of their love for Him and where peace reigns eternal. Jesus gave the disciples a basic understanding of the Kingdom of God and now He sends them out. Why? Why would Jesus send the disciples out to draw greater attention to Himself when there were already large crowds following Him and yet many of these people had no real interest in the Gospel message? Also, Jesus would have eventually reached these places without sending the disciples ahead anyway. Why didn’t the disciples just stay with Him and continue to be taught especially as they still knew so little? Jesus had a purpose in it all. I believe He sent them out two by two in order to expand their understanding of the Kingdom of God.
The disciples had begun to understand the Kingdom of God through the words and actions of Jesus but what is this kingdom like? In the Old Testament there were prophets empowered by the Spirit of God who performed great signs and wonders and proclaimed the Word of God to the people but those who believed the message in the nation of Israel did not have this same enduement of power. These Old Testament prophets were types pointing to the great anti-type to be revealed in Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God. But the Kingdom of God as revealed through Jesus Christ would be different. Not just a few individuals within the nation of Israel would reveal the greatness of God but all those in the Kingdom of God throughout all the nations who would repent and believe in Jesus Christ:
Acts 2:17-18, 38-39 17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. ...38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
But at this point none of the disciples had been baptized with the Holy Spirit. Also, in their midst, was the one who would betray Jesus and thus would later be proven to be a false convert. He was among the twelve and yet had never been born again (Judas Iscariot).
So what was Jesus teaching His disciples at this point? They had recognized the Kingdom of God manifest through Jesus by the great signs he performed in Mark 5 but now the disciples would see the Kingdom of God was manifest through their own actions as they went out. Jesus gave them authority over the unclean spirits (even Judas Iscariot). This Kingdom was different from what they had known from being a part of the nation of Israel. Also, they did not see these things happen under John the Baptist. (Many of the twelve would have been previously disciples of John who was the last of the Old Testament prophets). This was something new and strange to them! They went out preaching a message of repentance (the same message that John the Baptist preached) and yet as followers of Jesus they witnessed the Kingdom of God manifest about them as they proclaimed this message! The Christ had come to establish His Kingdom! The greatness of God and His plan of salvation was being revealed!
The journey that Jesus sent His disciples on was not a long one. The disciples were to not take anything with them. It was a quick tour by which Jesus would draw people to Himself who were under conviction of sin and at the same time expand the disciples’ understanding of the Kingdom of God. But a significant part of their training was to understand that not all will believe. Jesus showed them how the people of Nazareth had rejected Him before sending them out (Mark 6:1-6). And as they went on this journey they would likewise see many who would reject their message. Their excitement in finding the Christ in Jesus of Nazareth would not likewise be found in everyone they met and they could not tell who would believe and who would reject the message until after it had been proclaimed. As they preached the Word of God and shared about Jesus Christ they would have been surprised as people whom they thought should believe but refused their message and others whom they assumed would not believe accepted the message. They were to shake the dust of their feet at those who rejected the message showing the judgment of God was upon them and for those who received them would be blessed. Jesus could have told them exactly which homes they should visit as He told the disciples later exactly the home to visit to prepare for the last supper before His crucifixion (Luke 22:7-13) but the disciples needed to experience firsthand that the Gospel message was for all people and yet there will always be those who receive the message and those who reject it. They needed to understand more clearly God’s plan of salvation. For the disciples would have assumed that all the Jews would believe their message as they all were supposed to be looking for the coming Christ. But God’s Kingdom is not of one nation or family or people group but rather individual souls from every nation. And more clearly they needed to understand how many of the Jews would never believe. They needed to understand that those who rejected Jesus as the Christ were of the kingdom of this world and would be cast into eternal hell even if they were a part of the nation of Israel.
Do you understand what Jesus was teaching His disciples at this point? There will always be those who will welcome the Gospel and those who refuse to hear. Do you recognize that God can manifest the Kingdom of God through you? Do you see how amazing the Kingdom of God is- this kingdom in which Jesus Christ reigns? Do you recognize the authority over darkness that Jesus Christ possesses and can reveal in your midst? Praise Him! Worship Him!
Pastor Murray Hack